Outside of my close friends and family, not many people know that I was let go from my first sales job out of college. As a recent grad, I decided to take an offer from a company down in another state for a sales position. I was thinking,
"I am a people person; I can figure out how to do sales."
Boy, I was wrong. While many things weren't ideal during my onboarding, looking back on it, I flat-out sucked. I had a horrible attitude and spent most of my time with this victim mentality, telling myself that nothing was my fault... I was the lowest sales rep in the company because....
I did not have the right training
my coworkers were getting better leads
our services needed to be stronger
These were the socially accepted excuses I kept telling myself. Fast forward to today, 2022 will be a record year for me. I will finish as the top sales rep for our team.
Here is how that transformation happened…
Change Your Mindset
The first thing that helped me achieve any level of success in sales was changing my mindset. I mentioned when times were bad (and they were BAD – remember, I sucked), I constantly used socially acceptable excuses for why I was not performing. Finally, someone decided to call me out on it. I was driving home from work after another brutal day and talking to my Dad, giving him another 2-3 "reasons" why I did not close any deals that week. He said,
"You are either going to get fired, or you are going to make it happen. It is up to you."
At first, I was upset with him. "He doesn't know my job; he is not where I am at, so of course, it is easier for him to say things like that" (more woe is me talk). But after a while, I found myself realizing he was right. One of two things was going to happen…I was going to get fired, OR I was going to turn things around and make it. Little did I know at the time, but I was about to adopt the Four Cornerstones of Success®. It was time to change my attitude and hold myself accountable (cornerstones 1 & 2). I started getting into the office an hour and a half before anyone else and staying late. I started every morning by finding something "motivational" to listen to on my commute (search "motivational speeches" on Spotify and you'll find exactly what I was listening to). I started listening to my calls/sales meetings and realized I was focusing on my operating reality (wanting to close the deal) instead of theirs (helping them find a solution to their problems). Over time, I built a foundation for great habits (cornerstone 4).
As you already know, I still was let go. But when I was given the news, I had closed 3 deals that day (I never closed 3 deals in a month prior to that) and was tied for sales leader in the company (perseverance – cornerstone 3). Present day – I still do all the things I mentioned: I wake up early, listen to something motivational, ensure I am in my customer's operating reality and focus on what I can control.
Plan & Prepare For as Much as Possible
I used to leave a lot of my sales success to chance. I mentioned in past blogs that I have been a procrastinator for most of my life, and in that first job, I procrastinated/would wing it all the time. I did not feel I needed to plan for any calls/meetings and thought I could talk my way through anything. After that talk with my Dad, I realized the importance of planning & preparing for as much as possible. When I got to Butler Street, that idea increased significantly.
I now script out every voicemail, my response if they answer my cold call, and anticipated objections long before I pick up the phone and make a call thanks to our prospecting planning worksheet. I send myself all my prospecting emails and see how it reads from my phone notification, in my inbox, and when opened on a computer. I spend hours using our meeting planning worksheet, writing out every question, and role-practicing different responses/objections. If they answer "this" way, I know where to go. If they answer "that" way, I, too, know where to go.
The takeaway here is do not leave things up to chance. Butler Street taught me to take as much variability out of the process as possible and focus on the repetitions.
A Steady State of Uneasiness
This third lesson took a long time for me to learn; even now, I occasionally struggle with it.
Always operate in a steady state of uneasiness.
In other words, do not become comfortable. Early in my career, I consistently made the mistake of taking my foot off the gas after one good sales call or a couple of good prospecting calls. Then, when I did not win that deal, or my prospects ghosted our scheduled meeting time, I had to try and make up for everything I thought I had. At Butler Street, I learned to "never read my own press clippings."
When times are good, everyone will tell you how good you are or how well you are doing, and it can be easy to take your foot off the gas. When times are tough, you will probably talk negatively to yourself, making you feel things are worse than they are. Do not read your own press clippings.
After I was let go from that company in 2016, My friends, family, and coworkers said, "maybe sales is just not for you." Six years later, I am having a personal record year. A considerable part of my success comes from my team, leaders, and clients. But this success was only possible by changing my mindset, preparing & planning for as much as possible, and continuing to operate in a steady state of uneasiness.
If you are a sales rep or a leader of a sales team with challenges, I would be happy to share my story and discuss how Butler Street can benefit you as it did for me.